In several of President Obama’s speeches I’ve heard a reworking of Karl Marx’s “labor theory of value” maxim. It’s the heart of Marxist ideology. It argues that the value of a commodity is related to the labor needed to produce or obtain that commodity. A person’s value is in his work regardless of whether what he produces ever has any utility or demand.
In his “you didn’t build that speech,” President Obama said “a lot of people work hard.” Cheers went up from the crowd. Yes, a lot of people do work hard, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve some of my money or that they should get a wage commensurate with someone who might not work as hard but gets paid a lot more. There’s more to work than the amount of labor that goes into a job or the development and sale of a product. But even these don’t matter if nobody wants what’s being sold or what service is being offered.
If a doctor works 40 hours a week seeing patients and doing surgery and a garbage collector also works 40 hours per week hauling trash, their labor is equal in terms of hours worked. The garbage hauler is doing harder more physical work than the surgeon, but he doesn’t get paid what the doctor gets. Many more people can be garbage haulers than surgeons. Rarely does a garbage hauler save a person’s life. So it’s not the labor that’s valuable but a marketable skill that people are willing to pay for.
This is a gross inequity according to the way a Marxist like Obama thinks. Taxing the rich cuts down on the inequity. One of the platform principles of the Communist Manifesto is “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax.” President Obama was not the first to adopt this Marxist principle; he’s just the first president who is self-conscious about it.
To the Marxist, economic realities don’t matter. The planners believe they can fix the inequities without any disturbance to the market. It’s the worker’s labor that matters, therefore, he should be paid the same as the doctor or close to it. And if that’s not possible, he should receive some of the doctor’s excessive profit since they both labored equally.
Obama’s recent statement that “you can make it if you try” is an indicator of the “labor theory of value” premise. There are many businesses that fail even though the owner tried very hard and worked 70 or more hours a week to make it work. The housing debacle was built on the argument that every person deserves to be a homeowner because everybody “tries.” So the government decided to circumvent economic realities by guaranteeing loans of people who may have tried hard but couldn’t afford to purchase a house.
There are too many people who believe that they deserve a certain wage because they work and try hard or they have this or that degree. I realize there are some companies that require advanced degrees for someone to get in the door (not at my companies), but if they don’t produce, that is, if they don’t make the company money, they will be shown the same door on their way out to look for another job.
The word “economics” is made up of two Greek words: oikos and nomos, meaning “house” and “law.” There are certain fixed economic LAWS that no amount of counter ideology, no matter how well intended or envious, can change. To violate those laws brings destruction similar to a man jumping off a ten-story building and landing head first on the concrete sidewalk below.